Midway through a vehicle’s life, manufacturers will usually introduce improvements to perhaps spark interest or spike up demand. The Ford Ranger is an interesting case, however. Despite its popularity and success, the blue oval brand decided to introduce a significant update to mimic the recently introduced Everest. The changes were far more than a simple nip and tuck, which drew mixed reactions from its many fans.
It was only four years ago that I had my first taste of the Ford’s "built from the ground up" T6 Ranger in the mountains of Chiang Rai, Thailand. Right then and there, we concluded that this pickup would set a new benchmark for the two-ton truck segment. So much so that I actually found myself acquiring a Wildtrak a year after.
Let’s see how the updated Ranger XLT variant performs.
Design-wise, the front of the Ranger is almost an exact copy of the Everest SUV introduced in 2014. It gets slimmer projector headlights with a very imposing central grille, which follows on the brand’s current design language. The "vents" on the fenders have also been tweaked to look sharper. The rear is practically the same, with very slightly tweaked tail lamps. A new truck bed lamp, integrated with the third brake lamp, is also a welcome addition as a convenience feature. People who really use their pickups will find this really useful.
Inside, the most significant change is the completely revised dashboard, inherited from the new Everest. It takes on a rather lifestyle-oriented theme compared to its rough and tough "G-Shock inspired" predecessor. It also gets a new steering wheel with a lot more controls. Having recently driven its bigger brother the F-150, one can’t help but see it as a scaled down version. I still prefer the older one, but it’s a love it, or hate it change.
Under the hood is a re-tuned 2.2-liter Puma-series Duratorq commonrail turbo diesel engine. Gaining 10 PS and 10 Nm over its predecessor, it now produces 160 PS @ 3200 rpm and 385 Nm from 1600 to 2500 rpm. While the difference is seemingly minimal, it feels a lot more powerful in the seat of the pants as boost seems to come in earlier and with a higher maximum pressure. Despite peaking out 500 rpm earlier than the previous (3700 rpm), it doesn’t seem to run out of power at the upper end of the powerband either. The 6-speed automatic transmission seems to have been updated as well, as it shifted through gears more often compared to before where it used to hang on to them.
In terms of consumption, it was a bit more efficient at about 9.2 kilometers per liter in the city. I wasn’t able to take it out on the open road, but it should do better than the 14.4 kilometer per liter figure we posted on the pre-facelift version.
The suspension also receives a slight rework with re-tuned shock absorbers and updated bushings and mounts. The change has improved handling on corners further and made ride comfort more predictable and consistent on uneven roads.
One major gripe is the seemingly cheapened armrest console, with the locking mechanism not working as smoothly as the previous one. The voice command system, while slightly improved, still requires speaking with a slightly Aussie/British accent for it to understand what you’re telling it.
Pricing has also made a significant jump from the original PhP 1,119,000 to the current PhP 1,279,000 retail, making it one of the pricier 4x2 A/T pickups in the market. With all the improvements however, the 2015 Ford Ranger XLT will still be a force to reckon with in the pickup segment, as a vehicle which can be used for both work and play.